2. U.S. Army Generals
At the top of the monumental pilasters on each side of the stage, inscriptions list the names of famous figures in American military history: generals on the north side, admirals on the south side. The names are arranged chronologically, beginning with the American Revolution and ending with the Spanish-American War.
George Washington: One of the most important figures in American history, George Washington served as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution (1775-1783), became the first president of the United States in 1789 and played an immeasurable role in the founding of the United States.
Nathanael Greene: During the American Revolution, Greene was one of George Washington's most trusted officers. He led American troops in major battles throughout the war, most notably as commander of the southern theater of operations.
Anthony Wayne: Known as “Mad Anthony” for his temper and his reputation as an aggressive commander, Wayne served as a general during the American Revolution. After the war, he served briefly in Congress before rejoining the Army. His 1794 victory against American Indians under the command of Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in Ohio, followed by the destruction of villages and crops, contributed to the expulsion of American Indians from the Northwest Territory.
Andrew Jackson: Famous for his 1815 victory at New Orleans during the War of 1812 (1812-1815), Jackson served as the seventh president of the United States from 1829 to 1837. His legacy remains complicated by his policies that led to the removal of American Indians to make way for white settlement.
Winfield Scott: A long-serving Army officer and military leader, Scott served during the War of 1812 and remained in the Army until just after the start of the Civil War. During the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), he led the decisive U.S. victories at Vera Cruz and Mexico City.
Zachary Taylor: A career military officer whose service began in 1808, Taylor rose to the rank of major general during the Mexican-American War, when he led U.S. victories at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. In 1849, he became the twelfth president of the United States, serving until his death in office on July 9, 1850.
Ulysses S. Grant: An 1843 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Grant first distinguished himself during the Mexican-American War, when he led campaigns under General Zachary Taylor. During the Civil War (1861-1865), as commanding general of the U.S. Army, he led Union forces to victory over the Confederacy and accepted the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Grant’s tremendous popularity as a war hero led to his election as the eighteenth president of the United States in 1868.
William Tecumseh Sherman: During the Civil War, Sherman’s strategy of total warfare helped to break the Confederacy. Commissioned as a colonel at the war’s outset, he became a major general in May 1862, after distinguishing himself in battles such as First Bull Run, Shiloh and Vicksburg. Sherman is best known for a scorched-earth campaign that destroyed much of Georgia in late 1864. Appointed commanding general of the United States Army in 1869, he retired in 1884.
George Henry Thomas: A career Army officer, Thomas graduated from West Point in 1840 and fought in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, serving until his death in 1870 while in command of the Military Division of the Pacific. Despite hailing from a prominent southern family, Thomas fought for the Union during the Civil War. His defense at the Battle of Chickamauga earned him the nickname “The Rock of Chickamauga,” and he commanded the Army of the Cumberland during the Union’s victorious Atlanta Campaign in 1864.
Philip Henry Sheridan: During the Civil War, Sheridan rose quickly to brigade and division command, and later led the Army of the Shenandoah. His Valley Campaign crushed the Confederates in 1864, and his cavalry relentlessly pursued Robert E. Lee’s army until Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. Sheridan became commanding general of the U.S. Army in 1883 and held the position until his death in 1888. His grave and monument is located at Arlington National Cemetery.
George Brinton McClellan: A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, McClellan served with distinction during the Mexican-American War and Civil War. Succeeding General Winfield Scott as commanding general of the U.S. Army, he raised what became the Army of the Potomac, the Union’s principal army. He achieved important victories in the Peninsula Campaign (March-July 1862) and the Battle of Antietam (September 1862), but clashed with President Abraham Lincoln over military strategy. McClellan unsuccessfully ran for president in 1864 and resigned his commission on Election Day. Arlington National Cemetery's iconic McClellan Gate is named after him.
George Gordon Meade: A career military officer, Meade is best known for his Civil War service, including his decisive defeat of General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. One of the most stalwart officers in the Army of the Potomac, he rose from brigade command to eventually lead it to its final victory. Meade’s previous service included the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) and the Mexican-American War.
William Rufus Shafter: A Union Army officer, Shafter was captured at the Battle of Thompson’s Station in 1863 and spent three months in a Confederate prison. He received the Medal of Honor for actions at the Battle of Fair Oaks in 1864. He continued serving through the Indian Wars of the 1870s and 1880s. During the Spanish-American War (1898), Shafter led the Army’s Fifth Corps, laying siege to the city of Santiago, Cuba in conjunction with the U.S. Navy. This successful operation played a key role in the United States’ final victory.
Wesley Merritt: One of the most distinguished soldiers in the nation’s history, Merritt served in the Civil War, Indian Wars and the Spanish-American War. He entered the Army in 1860, and by the end of the Civil War had become a major general of volunteers. He later fought on the Great Plains, commanded the Army’s Eight Corps during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) and became the first American military governor of the Philippines.